Discuss some of the principal issues surrounding the use of non-Christian and Christian sources for the historical Jesus.
What measures do scholars take in approaching these texts as historical evidence for the events and sayings of Jesus’s life?
Christian sources, such as the New Testament books in the Christian Bible, include detailed stories about Jesus, but scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts of Jesus. The only two events subject to “almost universal assent” are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.
Non-Christian sources that are used to study and establish the historicity of Jesus include Jewish sources such as Josephus, and Roman sources such as Tacitus. These sources are compared to Christian sources such as the Pauline Epistles and the Synoptic Gospels. These sources are usually independent of each other (e.g. Jewish sources do not draw upon Roman sources), and similarities and differences between them are used in the authentication process.[